Police Search for Motive in Deadly Gilroy Garlic Festival Shooting

Police stay focused on a target after a deadly shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy, Calif., on Sunday. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Police have identified the Gilroy Garlic Festival gunman as a 19-year-old man who grew up near the scene of Sunday’s horrific shooting.

But while police know Santino William Legan used an AK-47 assault-type rifle purchased legally in Nevada on July 9, they don’t know why.

“We don’t have a motive for the shooting,” said Gilroy Chief of Police Scot Smithee during a morning press conference.

The three people who lost their lives at the festival Sunday were identified by Monday. Stephen Luciano Romero, a 6-year-old from San Jose was identified overnight. Keyla Salazar, a 13-year-old, also from San Jose and Trevor Irby, a 25-year-old from Romulus, N.Y. were identified on Monday.

Law enforcement does not yet know whether any of the victims are connected to the shooter.

“Anytime a life is lost, it’s a tragedy,” Smithee said. “When it’s young people, it’s even worse. It’s very difficult.”

Police executed two search warrants, one centering on the vehicle he drove to the food festival before the shooting on Sunday and the other focusing on the shooter’s residence.

Smithee did not say if the searches yielded anything.

“It seems like a random act, but we have a long way to go in this thing,” Smithee said.

FBI special agent Craig Fair said his agency is combing the suspect’s social media profiles in search of a motive.

An Instagram account with the name of the gunman referenced the Gilroy Garlic Festival and touted a white supremacist manifesto. Instagram has since removed the account.

The gunman also injured 12 people in the attack. One person remains in critical condition at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

The shooting took place at approximately 5:41 p.m., after the gunman used a tool to cut a hole in a chain-link fence. He began shooting into the crowd, at which point three Gilroy Police Department officers confronted him and exchanged fire.

“Despite being outgunned, with handguns against a rifle, the officers were able to fatally wound the suspect,” Smithee said.

Police did not reveal particulars of the investigation or whether the gunman’s personal property, computers or other items have been seized. The chief said he will go into further detail on some of those elements in a press conference slated for Monday afternoon.

With a population of just under 50,000 Gilroy straddles U.S. Highway 101 south of San Jose. The Garlic Festival is an annual event celebrating the town’s status as a major producer of garlic, drawing approximately 100,000 people and making it one of the most popular food festivals in the country.

“It’s a wonderful and charitable event that donates tens of thousands of dollars to local nonprofits every year,” said Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco.

Velasco said the horrific incident would have been much worse had officers not responded quickly. The three officers engaged the gunman within a minute of the first shot being fired, according to Smithee.

“There would have absolutely been more bloodshed just due to the amount of people in a small area,” Smithee said.

President Donald Trump condemned the “wicked murderer.”

“We express our deepest sadness and sorrow for the families who lost a precious loved one in the horrific shooting last night in Gilroy, California,” Trump said Monday before an event at the White House.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the attack “nothing short of horrific” in a tweet.

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